If you´re the type who avoids museums because the temptation to touch the exhibits is too great, then consider stopping by the Walters sometime in the next couple of months. The museum´s newest show, Touch and the Enjoyment of Sculpture: Exploring the Appeal of Renaissance Statuettes is aptly titled — ¨Visitors are invited to… hold, stroke and even caress the pieces.¨
What, exactly, might you be caressing? The installation includes twelve centuries-old statues, along with 22 replicas (those are the ones you´ll actually get to handle). And the touching is essential, because these small art objects were meant to be handled — they were luxury goods commissioned specially because they were satisfying to hold and handle.
But the exhibit isn´t just looking back at the past, it´s also looking forward to the future. Visitors will get to rate their favorite statues to hold and touch on iPads provided by the Walters. Then that data will be mined by the Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute, which is partnering with the museum for this show. “We’re challenging people to think about why physical contact with works of art can be so satisfying,” says Hopkins neuroscientist Steven Hsiao. So do the museum a favor — come and touch some art!